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The unexpected value of international talent

At one point in time, international recruiting was reserved for large multinational corporations that could afford the logistics of employee relocation. Today, it’s common practice for small and mid-sized enterprises to look abroad for talent and invest in global mobility. For most companies, it will eventually become a necessity.

Eventually, every growing company faces the prospect of international expansion. That might be as simple as hiring freelancers in another country or as involved as opening multiple foreign entities. Needless to say, if you operate abroad, you’ll need to adapt your hiring strategy accordingly.

What’s more, increasing demand for a variety of skilled workers has made it challenging to find the right fit. In fact, one of the greatest concerns for CEOs across the world is whether or not they’ll be able to recruit and retain top talent. 

Recruiting internationally is a great way to attract great employees. Especially if you go one step beyond global recruitment and invest in a global mobility program. Not only will this allow your company to source skilled workers from other countries, it will also give them the option to choose where they want to work from in the future — a workplace benefit that's becoming a must-have for many workers. It’s critical to be mindful of this, especially within the context of the Great Resignation and the current labor market that heavily favors talent. 

When hiring internationally, one of the main benefits usually cited is access to a wider talent pool. There’s no denying that. It’s more than just another tactic in the war for talent, however. It’s a powerful lever for organizational success on the whole. 

Below are some of the other advantages to global hiring that every company should know about.

Enhanced culture

Hiring internationally enriches your workforce by making it more diverse. Not only in terms of nationality and ethnicity, but knowledge and life experience. This can help define your workplace culture as open and inclusive, which is beneficial for several reasons. 

Unfortunately, discrimination is still a major problem in many workplaces. Even in progressive organizations, there’s still unconscious bias. The slightest experience with prejudice can negatively impact an employee’s willingness to share their ideas and participate — especially when there’s a noticeable lack of diversity at the company. However, with greater representation from diverse communities, it’s easier to build a culture where everyone’s opinion is valued.

A diverse workplace also teaches employees to be actively mindful and respectful of individual differences. This promotes more understanding and empathy: soft skills that are necessary for forming productive and healthy relationships with co-workers.

Better creativity and problem solving

One main advantage to diversity is that it influences innovation. When people come together in groups, they bring a variety of ideas, knowledge, and opinions. This diversity of perspectives leads to new and creative ways of thinking and problem solving, which has an impact on productivity and performance.

In fact, a report by Forrester found that workplace belonging leads to a 56% increase in job performance. Additionally, research has shown that companies with more culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams were 33% more likely to see better-than-average profits. 

Valuable insights into new markets

International employees offer businesses unique insight into the markets they come from or live in. Because they’re already familiar with the local market, language, and customs, international employees can be a source of strategic knowledge. 

This can be valuable on many levels, like market and customer research, competitor analysis, and branding. You could hire an external consultant to acquire this kind of information, but at a much greater cost. It’s more sustainable to rely on employees for these kinds of insights as your relationship with them will be long-term, not brief and transactional.

Superior customer service 

If your business is international, your customer service needs to be international. Hiring internationally empowers companies to provide better overall service to their clients, no matter where they’re located in the world.

Additionally, hiring internationally could mean that you’ll have employees that speak multiple languages. This is a huge plus for customer service teams, as it removes language barriers and allows for a better overall consumer experience. 

Finally, having an international customer service team in various countries increases your ability to connect with customers by understanding their frustrations and the problems specific to their country. This can have a positive and lasting effect on CSAT scores and customer retention. 

Best practices for hiring international employees

The benefits of hiring international talent are undeniable, but if you haven’t done it before, it can be confusing. Here are a few quick tips to get started:

Focus your efforts

Just because you’ve made the decision to recruit internationally doesn’t mean you have to recruit everywhere. When coming up with your hiring strategy, think about the skills and roles you need to hire for, then do some talent research and scouting. It may take some trial and error, but that’s okay. 

If you find a country with lots of applicants that meet your needs, consider the legal and tax implications of hiring there. It’s also good practice to prioritize locations where you and/or your existing employees have a connection. As mentioned above, internal staff are an invaluable asset to have when branching into a new market.

Localize your global recruiting strategy

When hiring global talent, there isn’t a blanket approach. Each market in which a company operates requires its own strategy. What may be successful in the United States may not be quite as effective in India, South Korea, France, or Brazil.

Talent recruitment, compensation, and benefits can vary widely by location. The same is true of recruitment marketing and messaging. It is in your best interest to consult with local experts when developing recruitment strategies for individual markets.

Understand worker classifications

You can hire workers in other countries one of two ways: as contractors or as full employees. But which is right for your situation? That depends on the nature of the relationship. Be careful not to misclassify employees as contractors, as doing so can have severe financial and legal consequences.

If you do not own an entity in the country where a person lives, but you want to hire that person as a full employee, you will need to work with an employer of record, or EOR. An EOR can hire the employee on your behalf, handling the paperwork of compliance, payroll, and benefits administration.

International teams are for everyone

Many companies, especially rapidly growing ones, stand to benefit from tapping into the international talent pool. In some respects, global hiring has become a necessary survival tactic for businesses to attract talent and remain competitive. But it’s a lot more than that, too.

There are so many benefits to being part of an international team. It expands your horizons and makes you more successful in the process. To optimize your recruiting and hiring outcomes, think strategically about location and personalize your approach for each market. If you do, the results will speak for themselves.

Hanna Asmussen is the CEO & Co-Founder of Localyze, a global mobility platform for companies and employees. Having built a hybrid yet remote-first, international company from the ground up, she’s very familiar with the benefits — and challenges — of global hiring.